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July 30, 2006 Washington Post Review of the '06 LGT


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Enough Comfort for the Long Ride Back





By Warren Brown

Washington Post Staff Writer

Sunday, July 30, 2006; Page G01




Getting here was easy. We drove up from Virginia in the Legacy GT Limited, Subaru's midsize luxury sport sedan, replete with an onboard navigation system, faux-wood interior accents and other cosmetic and functional upgrades for 2006.


We arrived at the beginning of the Pennsylvania 500, the 20th of 36 Nextel Cup series races held under the auspices of NASCAR, the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing.


We were latecomers.


NASCAR weekends are exactly that -- long weekends starting as early as Thursday, but well underway by Friday evening. Most fans in the grandstands and infields of the Pocono International Raceway had been in the area for at least two days. Incoming traffic was light on the Sunday afternoon we showed up.


It was a good race. Rookie Denny Hamlin, driving No. 11, the FedEx Kinko-sponsored Chevrolet owned by Washington Redskins Head Coach Joe Gibbs, finished first after dominating the track for most of the contest. We started cheering for Hamlin after the 32nd lap of the 200-lap race, primarily because he was a rookie, but also because he exhibited a dignity absent from the rude track behavior of defending NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Tony Stewart.

We need not go into the details of Stewart's bit of track rage for which he was penalized one lap. We were juiced by Hamlin's victory.

But that good feeling faded when we were trapped by the traffic inching out of the track after the race.


We spent 90 minutes crawling along Long Pond Road. You notice a lot about a car in that circumstance, and none of it has anything to do with horsepower or vehicle handling. You concentrate on where you are -- the car's cabin.

We focused on the Legacy GT Limited's new-for-2006 navigation system. We were impressed by its accuracy, right down to depicting vacant fields and campgrounds on the right side of Long Pond Road. But we were frustrated by its operation.


We're accustomed to navigation systems that literally tell us turn-by-turn where we are and where we are going, that gently ask us to make a U-turn or take some other corrective measure when we've made a wrong move.

By comparison, the synthesized female's voice in the Subaru was unkind, snippy. We touched the navigational screen's voice tab to ascertain if we were driving in the right direction on Long Pond Road. She curtly responded: "Refer to the map!"


We reluctantly touched the voice tab again, fearing that the irascible electronic maiden on the other end would shout back: "You idiots! Refer to the map!"

We shut her off after discovering we'd been driving in the wrong direction on Long Pond Road.


We noticed other things, such as the Legacy GT Limited's perforated leather seats. All leather is not the same. Some leather seat coverings are supple, seductive. Your body touches them and wants to stay there. Other leather seats are tight, hard and slippery. Your body touches them and moves all over the place. The Legacy GT Limited's leather was, well, limited -- hard and slippery despite perforation, less than ideal for long-drive comfort.


But the rest of the Legacy GT Limited's interior was pleasant enough to make roadway incarceration tolerable. All gauges on the instrument panel were easy to read. Most dials and buttons were easily reached. Overall interior presentation was attractive.


After wandering various Pennsylvania back roads for what seemed an eternity, we made it to Interstate 81 heading south. There the Legacy GT Limited's performance virtues became evident. Its 2.5-liter, turbocharged, horizontally opposed four-cylinder, 250-horsepower engine was gutsy, although sometimes afflicted by turbo-lag -- a brief go-nowhere pause between pressing the accelerator and experiencing turbo boost.


Handling and road feel were impressive.


We were happy finally to be moving at speed on an open highway. We drove all the way into West Virginia before crossing into Virginia and making our way home.


The detour was unintentional. That nasty woman in the GT Legacy Limited's navigation system was right. We should have referred to the map.

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